Showing Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF)-operated Pacific Aerospace PAC-750XL XSTOL utility aircraft (serial P2-701), an image released on June 23 by the Australian Department of Defence has revealed the aircraft was made airworthy again last year after being grounded for four years.
This was made possible through the Australian government’s Defence Cooperation Programme (DCP) agreement with PNG. It is now operational with the Air Transport Wing (ATW) at Port Moresby and is reported to be the only PNGDF fixed-wing aircraft currently airworthy. Due to the many remote and almost inaccessible areas of the country, the PNGDF selected the rugged, STOL, single-engined, ten-seat PAC-750XL as the most suitable for operations to these areas and ordered four of the type in February 2016. The first aircraft, ZK-KDI (c/n 206), was delivered in May 2018.
However, due to reported maintenance and regulatory issues, they had remained unused since 2019 and had been kept in storage in the PNGDF hangar. As a result of the DCP, a sister squadron agreement was signed between the PNGF ATW and the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) C-27J Spartan-equipped 35 Squadron. Since 2019, through this partnership, the Australian government has been assisting the PNGDF in regaining a fixed-wing aviation capability.
Finally, in September 2021, PAC-750XL P2-701 (presumed to be the former ZK-KDI) took to the air for a post-maintenance check flight after being made airworthy once more. It was flown by a PNGDF pilot, marking the first time one of the country’s pilots had flown the type in-country. Subsequently, with further help from the RAAF, the PAC-750XL was certified and has entered operational service.
At the request of the PNG government, the Australian Defence Force is providing capabilities to support the conduct of the country’s 2022 elections in July. Working with the PNG Electoral Commission, PNGDF and Royal PNG Constabulary, the ADF is providing specialist planning and logistics support, along with two C-27J Spartan and one C-130J Hercules transports from the RAAF.